Habituation model of systematic desensitization

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Discusses the relevance of habituation as a model for response decrement in desensitization. A discussion of the relationship between habituation and extinction leads to the view that there are no sound reasons for explaining desensitization as an extinction rather than as a habituation phenomenon. The maximal habituation theory of desensitization proposed by M. H. Lader and A. M. Mathews (1968) is discussed and relevant evidence reviewed. Finally, a revised habituation theory of desensitization, based on the dual-process theory of habituation, is elaborated, and the role in desensitization of relaxation, stimulus intensity, stimulus lengths, and interstimulus interval lengths are discussed in the context of this theory. It is suggested that relaxation and an incremental stimulus hierarchy may reduce sensitization rather than facilitate habituation. (60 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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